Two internal McDonald's memos have been obtained by Ad Age outlining the company's push to keep franchised units open on Christmas Day to help lift December sales.

In the first memo, dated Nov. 8, chief operating officer Jim Johannesen said the biggest holiday opportunity "as a system" is Christmas Day. In 2011, he wrote, restaurants that were open on Christmas averaged $5,500 in sales.

In a follow up memo from Dec. 12, Johannesen said average sales at company-owned restaurants that stayed open on Thanksgiving were more than $6,000. He said the company's November sales, which surpassed analysts' expectations, were driven in part by units that stayed open on the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

This followed a dismal October performance in which sales declined for the first time since 2003. A McDonald's spokesperson would not comment on leaked documents.

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